So why is protein so important in our diet, to maintain muscle mass and help lose weight? Here's our step-by-step breakdown of what happens when you eat protein with every meal (as you should be...)
Step 1. You eat protein. Yummy yummy chicken breast with minimal salts, breading and oil...
Step 2. Your body starts a process called thermogenesis (see step 3).
Step 3. Your body starts to expend more energy (calories) in order to digest said chicken. So you're digesting protein and burning more calories.
Step 4. Because protein is so good for you, your body takes more time to absorb its nutrients , and it takes its sweet time in your digestive tract. A.K.A: you feel full longer.
Step 5. Your body sends the nutrients from proteins directly to your muscles. Therefore, you maintain muscle mass, and your meal isn't stored elsewhere, like in your love handles.
Client Question #1: So why is a chicken breast better than a turkey burger?
Because while the protein will take its time delivering nutrients and keeping you full, the carbs from a sandwich or any deep fried breading will speed through your digestive track, release fewer nutrients, supply you with a little bit of energy (low compared to healthier, slower releasing carbohydrates such as starches), and then the rest will go to your fat cells for storage.
Here's a list of the best sources of protein:
- Lean beef
- Lean fish
- Whey protein
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
Client Question #2) So what's my recommended daily intake?
Well that depends on your body type and weight. But here's the simple golden rule: Eat at least one gram of protein per pound of weight up to 1.5 grams per pound of body weight for optimal result.
If you eat too little protein, you could be experiencing some of the following:
- A slow metabolism
- Difficulty with weight loss
- Low energy
- Muscle and joint pain
- Slow healing
Client Question #3) That's so much protein! Can I be eating too much?
For the average person, most likely not. People don't realize how little protein they consume versus what is actually recommended. However, a major hint that you're taking in too much protein is you can't poop. However, people tend to suffer from constipation in a high-protein diet because of the simple fact they're substituting fibre for protein. So to avoid backing up, don't forget about those leafy greens and be sure to get in your 25 - 35 grams of daily fibre. i.e. add broccoli to your chicken breast.
Side note: People tend to not want to talk about their poop, but what else can be more indicative of a healthy diet? So I'll just leave this article here from Prevention magazine as to what your poop says about you...
So while we don't supply our participants of our 40-day fall fitness challenge (check out our week 1 blog as to why), here is a simple guide from Precision Nutrition as to how to set your meals without actually counting any calories (notice how protein is Step 1!):